Oklahoma beat West Virginia to get into the Big 12 Championship and stay in the national title chase. What does it all mean to the college football world?
That … was … awesome.
Of course, the symmetry is there with the epic Monday Night Football shootout between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs. But this is the Big 12 on a regular basis with these offenses. And, like the MNF game, it came down to which defense could do something. Oklahoma got the strip-scoop-score from Caleb Kelly, and it came up with the Curtis Bolton fumble return for a touchdown late for a ten-point lead. That’s what counted for holding serve.
Of course, if there’s ever a point total of 89, you go with the under. That’s too ridiculous, and too many things have to happen to get there to get by the over. They all happened, and the total got there with ease. Again … this was awesome.
Will Grier might have lost the two turnovers, but that’s like pointing out the pimple on Miss America. 32-of-49 passes for 539 yards and four scores with no picks and a rushing touchdowns. Will Grier went Will Grier, and it still wasn’t enough.
Gary Jennings was unstoppable. He caught seven passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns. David Sills was brilliant, catching eight passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns. And it still wasn’t enough, because …
Hollywood Brown caught 11 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown. Oklahoma had other receiving options, but not as many playmakers as West Virginia. Brown was the main man the Mountaineers were all over, and it didn’t matter.
The running game was solid. West Virginia finished with 704 yards of total offense, and it still wasn’t enough, because …
The Sooners ran for 304 yards and three scores, with Kennedy Brooks answering the question of who’d take care of the rushing load in the OU backfield. All he did was rip off 182 yards and a touchdown to take some of the pressure off of Kyler Murray.
Okay, Tua Tagovailoa, whatcha got? Murray threw a pick and lost a fumble, but he also completed 20-of-27 passes for 364 yards and three scores, came up with a brilliant play to make a game-sealing fourth down throw, and he ran nine times for 114 yards and a touchdown. Considering the Most Valuable Player aspect to the equation, Murray – at the immediate moment – has to be the clubhouse leader for the Heisman.
Of course you go for it on fourth down late if you’re Oklahoma. Giving away 20 yards of field position would’ve meant nothing. Of course you go for that onside kick if you’re West Virginia. Again, giving away field position didn’t matter in this game. Both teams had the mindset to always be pushing for a full 60 minutes. That’s what it took.
I don’t care that Oklahoma doesn’t have a defense. It might not work out, and the Sooners shouldn’t get in over Michigan if it goes 12-1, but who doesn’t want to see this Oklahoma offense against Alabama or Clemson, and who wouldn’t think it could take out Notre Dame?
The Big 12 might not outwardly say it has a rooting interest, but it has to be ecstatic. If Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame all win out, there are your top three. If Michigan beats Ohio State and Northwestern, there’s your No. 4. But if Ohio State wins the Big Ten Championship, Oklahoma will have a better argument and case if it avenges its one loss to Texas. And if Northwestern wins the Big Ten title, the Big 12 will have its team right there for the taking if the Sooners can get the job done in Jerry World.